“PLAY LOUD,” say the liner notes, “this album was mixed for Metal Loudness!!!” As a fan of Lightning Bolt and a total junkie for metal loudness, I was glad to heed the liner notes’ advice. I regret to report that I cranked my stereo’s volume higher than Chong and I still couldn’t make Hypermagic Mountain sound quite as good as the duo’s last album, 2003’s noise rock classic Wonderful Rainbow.
It’s certainly not that Lightning Bolt is hurting for energy — Hypermagic Mountain finds drummer Brian Chippendale spazzing out with manic ferocity, and Brian Gibson produces a gorgeous, god-awful racket with his speaker thrashing distorted bass. It’s mostly a problem of production: a decidedly lo-fi affair, Hypermagic Mountain crackles with static loud enough to distract at times, and the propulsive drums don’t cut through the din as well as they ought to.
The good news is that the most abrasive tracks cotton nicely to the raw production. ‘Magic Mountain’, ‘Dead Cowboy’ and ‘Bizarro Zarro Land’ sound especially nasty here, and a couple meandering jams towards the album’s end benefit from the extra edge as well. Hypermagic Mountain probably won’t go down as Lightning Bolt’s finest, but it’s still a must have for noise fans and anyone else who knows well enough to favor metal loudness over lower, inferior volumes.